Tracy Lawrence is firmly adhering to the old show business axiom, “The show must go on,” even in this uncertain era of COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines. Lawrence will be keeping his long-standing commitment to Nashville’s homeless when he hosts his 15th annual Mission: Possible Turkey Fry & Concert, Tuesday, November 24th. The combination turkey fry/concert raises funds for the Nashville Rescue Mission, which aids Nashville’s homeless community. In keeping with the benefit tradition, Lawrence will start the day at the Nashville Rescue Mission, helping a group of volunteers fry up turkeys to serve homeless and hungry families. During the evening, Lawrence will host a free, livestreaming all-star concert from the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, featuring an array of special guests, beginning at 7 p.m (CT).
Lawrence freely states that he was particularly geared up for the 15th edition of Mission: Possible Turkey Fry & Concert. “We were expecting this one to be the biggest ever,” Lawrence tells Sounds Like Nashville. “It was growing every year and we were getting so much interest from artists wanting to play the show.” But the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has obviously put a dent in those great expectations, resulting in some changes for the 2020 benefit. The concert, for instance, is set to be held as a free virtual livestream from the Wildhorse, to meet current health and safety guidelines. Joining Lawrence on the bill is a stellar lineup of artists: Tim McGraw, Chris Young, John Rich, Cole Swindell, Mitchell Tenpenny, David Tolliver from Halfway to Hazard, plus others.
“We’re having to do things really different this year,” Lawrence explains. “The Turkey Fry will happen during the day on November 24th, but with social distancing in place. We’ll be using more of their parking lot to give the people frying the turkeys extra space.” Lawrence also concedes that the numbers simply will not match those of years’ past, due to the economic effects of COVID-19. Since its inception, Mission: Possible has raised more than $600,000 for the Nashville Rescue Mission and prepared around 93,000 meals. The 2019 event fed approximately 6,000 people.
“We won’t be able to serve as many families this time,” Lawrence says. “Our turkey supplier had to close its plant for a little bit earlier this year, and their production line was down. So, not as much product is available. That’s just how it is. And it’s not just us who have been affected,” Lawrence adds. “All non-profits and charities around the country are down this year.”
But instead of lamenting the situation, Lawrence chooses to remain cheerful and positive. He’s especially pumped about the concert lineup, which will feature his longtime friend Tim McGraw. The two have known each other since the early 1990s, shortly after Lawrence moved to Nashville to pursue a record deal. “Tim and I have been friends for a long time,” Lawrence says. “We keep in touch with each other. We’re just so excited to have him this year.” Lawrence tacks on another plus, noting that, “Because we’re streaming, fans who don’t live in Nashville can see the show.”
The concert from the Wildhorse Saloon is free to stream. Fans will have the chance to donate to Mission: Possible during the concert and merchandise will be available to purchase. Streaming and donating information may be found at Lawrence’s website. All proceeds from Mission: Possible Turkey Fry & Concert will go to the Nashville Rescue Mission. Lawrence takes solace in the notion that 2020 has been the proverbial anomaly, and not a permanent state of affairs. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he says. “And I guess no one else has, either. I’ve had several concerts that all got canceled this year, as most artists have. But I’m glad we were able to do the benefit because people really do count on it.” Lawrence adds, in an upbeat tone, “I truly do believe that if we can get past this year, things will pick up again.”